I listened to Handel’s “Messiah” in the car and chanted the Magnificat during Advent. We sang Christmas carols during the Divine Liturgy on Christmas Eve.
But, somehow, as satisfying and wonderful as it was/is, it was/is not enough. There is something more. Something deeper I have known (experienced) and desire to enjoy.
Silent veneration and worship with rapt attention. Being loved and loving from the depths. I need no words, I need You, O Lord. And, you offer me Yourself, silently and completely. I have no words I have only myself to offer, O Lord. I offer this silently and as completely as I can at this moment knowing it will be more as I mature in my love for you and my capacity to know (experience unceasingly) Your love for me.
St. John Chrysostom walked this path “before” me and walks it with me still. Thank you “Golden Tongue” for your companionship and encouragement. The same thank you also to Fr. Phillips Brooks who penned, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
Strange and wonderful is the mystery I behold. In my ears rings the sound of shepherds, not piping a lonely melody but chanting a heavenly hymn. Angels carol, archangels celebrate with song and dance, the cherubim sing hymns, the seraphim give praise, all of them keeping festival as they contemplate God on earth and our nature in heaven. By divine decree he who dwells on high is now here below; by God’s love those who dwell below are raised on high.
Bethlehem today is like heaven: instead of stars it has welcomed angels praising God. Everyone is leaping for joy, so I too want to leap for joy; I want to dance, I want to join the festival; but as I dance I do not pluck the lyre, nor carry pipes, nor kindle torches. Instead of musical instruments I bear Christ’s swaddling clothes, for they are my hope, my life, my salvation; they are my pipe and my lyre. Carrying them I come that endowed with eloquence by their virtue I may say with the angels, Glory to God in the highest; and with the shepherds, Peace on earth for men on whom his favour rests.
Today he who was inexpressibly begotten by the Father is marvellously brought forth by a virgin for my sake. In his nature he was begotten by the Father before all ages in a manner known only to the One who engendered him; outside his nature he is today brought forth anew in a manner known only to the Holy Spirit’s grace. His birth on high was real; his birth here below is real. He was truly begotten as God from God and he is truly brought forth by the Virgin as man. In heaven he is the Father’s only Son, Unique from the Unique; on earth he is the Virgin’s only Son, unique from her who is also unique.
I know a virgin bore a son today and I believe that God begot a son before time was, but the manner in which this happened I have learned to venerate in silence and I have been taught not inquisitively to inquire by busy reasoning. Where God is concerned we should not regard the order of nature, but believe in the power of the One at work therein. Source: from a homily by St. John Chrysostom, TWO YEAR LECTIONARY, PATRISTIC VIGILS READINGS, ADVENT & CHRISTMASTDE, YEAR 1
“How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given
So God imparts to human hearts the blessings of his heaven
No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin
Where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
Source: The Hymnal 1982
And all of this lived not linearly but by “fits and starts” off in this direction and then off in that direction. And yet, we press on, lean forward, drawn by the End/Beginning into such moments of experienced union. Not more union but more deeply knowing the union that is already. This is the pilgrimage of repentance. Repentance is the way of salvation, which is the Way, Truth, and Life of eternal union.